The sudden step of demonetizing Rs500 and Rs1,000 notes by the Indian government have left many NRIs outside the country in a lurch. Even so, thousands of blue collar workers in the UAE welcome the revolutionary move by Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, as a step supporting the fight against fake currency.
Ajay Singh, a camp administrator at a Dubai-based engineering company, told Khaleej Times that he hails from a small village in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, where exchanging Rs500 and Rs1,000 notes is currently a huge hurdle.
“My family members take turns to queue up outside the bank every day, but the crowd is so large that they haven’t been able to exchange the notes yet. They’re buying basic provisions like milk, vegetables etc on credit, but I think this is just a temporary phase. Life will be back to normal soon and we will only benefit out of the move,” Singh said.
He added: “To ease my family’s problems and send them something, I’m also checking with the money exchanges here, but they don’t have other denominations of Indian currency here.”
Rukkappa Sudhakar is another blue collar worker in Abu Dhabi, who moved to the city just 8 months ago and cannot get leave to go back and help his parents back home in Karnataka, where they live alone.
“My brother is in Saudi Arabia and I am here. My father opened a bank account after the announcement. Initially, they faced a lot of difficulty in exchanging the cash, but they managed to do so yesterday,” Sudhakar said.
Despite these short-term obstacles, these workers are positive about the step and believe it will encourage the right financial practices in India, where corruption, bribery and black money have played a major role in crippling the nation’s growth and the welfare of its people.
George Kutty, a multi-technician in Dubai, thinks it’s a fair decision for the middle class and poor people in India. “My familly struggled to get their money exchanged in Kerala, and could do it only 2-3 days ago, but it’s worth standing in long lines for, because we’re supporting the right thing.”
For the honest Indian tax payer, the scrapping of Rs500 and Rs1000 notes as legal tender starting November 9, 2016, might be a relief, but there are those like Shankar Rana, a worker in Abu Dhabi who now faces major inconveniences.
There’s a wedding in his family on December 31, and they don’t have enough cash for the wedding arrangements’ transactions. “I really support it but my relatives are unable to buy gold or do any shopping right now.”